A masterful performance from Daniel Johnson has inspired Adelaide 36ers to a drought-breaking 81-71 win over Cairns Taipans in the NBL Cup.
The ever-reliable Johnson compiled 30 points and nine rebounds in Saturday's clash at John Cain Arena to help the Sixers bring their three-match losing streak to an end.
Johnson has impressed first-year Sixers coach Connor Henry as he continues to thrive as a vital cog in Adelaide's line-up.
"Since I've gotten here, DJ has shown his ability to train every day at his age, rock up every day with a great attitude and stick with the plan when things may not be going exactly on the court," Henry said after the 32-year-old stalwart starred in his 290th appearance for Adelaide.
"He's just an elite player, a great person and I'm getting to know him more and more - he had a great game."
Jack McVeigh (14 points) continues to emerge as a key piece in Adelaide's rotation following the loss of Isaac Humphries while Josh Giddey's 10-point, eight-assist, six-rebound outing included a pivotal block to prevent a certain Nate Jawai basket nearing halftime.
Adelaide held a narrow lead for most of the second half but took control in the closing minutes once Cairns import Scott Machado fouled out of the game, the Taipans losing their way without their key playmaker.
"We were sluggish on offence, missed some open looks and they were aggressive with Scott - we were slow to react offensively and just couldn't get it going," coach Mike Kelly said after tenacious defence from Sunday Dech helped restrict Machado to nine points.
With Machado and Cam Oliver quiet, Fabijan Krslovic led the Taipans' scoring with 12 points while 18-year-old NBL Next Star Mojave King added 11 points in 12 minutes.
Both teams had their moments in the first quarter but after Cairns missed seven of their first eight three-point attempts, King drained two triples in the final minute to earn his side a 21-19 lead.
King added a third long bomb early in the second term but the Sixers slowly worked their way to the front, Johnson's efficiency and Giddey's passing skills on full display as Adelaide edged ahead 41-38 by halftime.
Machado enjoyed his best passage of the game in the third quarter with seven points and an assist for a Krslovic basket to see Cairns regain the lead.
But the Taipans could not build on their momentum and their hopes were dashed once Machado picked up his fifth foul with four minutes to play.
While the victory is not enough to revive Adelaide's NBL Cup hopes, it does keep them in touch with the league's top four as they improved to a 7-8 record on the season.